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established societies of men and jumbling them discordantly together again at his caprice, the demolition of the fairest hopes of mankind for the recovery of their rights and amelioration of their condition, and all the numberless train of his other enormities; the man, I say, who could consider all these as no crimes, must have been a moral monster, against whom every hand should have been lifted to slay him.
You are so kind as to inquire after my health. The bone of my arm is well knitted, but my hand and fingers are in a discouraging condition, kept entirely useless by an ædematous swelling of slow amendment.
God bless you and continue your good health of body and mind.
TO JUDGE JOHNSON.
MONTICELLO, March 4, 1823. DEAR SIR,—I delayed some time the acknowledgment of your welcome letter of December 10th, on the common lazy principle of never doing to-day what we can put off to to-morrow, until it became doubtful whether a letter would find you at Charleston. Learning now that you are at Washington, I will reply to some particulars which seem to require it.
The North American Review is a work I do not take, and which is little known in this State, consequently I have never seen its observations on your inestimable history, but a reviewer can never let a work pass uncensured. He must always make himself wiser than his author. He would otherwise think it an abdication of his office of censor. On this occasion, he seems to have had more sensibility for Virginia than she has for herself; for, on reading the work, I saw nothing to touch our pride or jealousy, but every expression of respect and good will which truth could justify. The family of enemies, whose buzz you apprehend, are now nothing. You may learn this at Washington ; and their military relation has long ago had the full-voiced condemnation of his own State. Do not fear, therefore, these insects. What you write will be far above their grovelling sphere. Let me, then, implore you, dear Sir, to finish your history of parties, leaving the time of publication to the state of things you may deem proper, but taking especial care that we do not lose it altogether. We have been too careless of our future reputation, while our tories will omit nothing to place us in the wrong. Besides the five-volumed libel which represents us as struggling for office, and not at all to prevent our government from being administered into a monarchy, the life of Hamilton is in the hands of a man who, to the bitterness of the priest, adds the rancor of the fiercest federalism. Mr. Adams' papers, too, and his biography, will descend of course to his son, whose pen, you know, is pointed, and his prejudices not in our favor. And doubtless other things are in preparation, unknown to us. On our part we are depending on truth to make itself known, while history is taking a contrary set which may become too inveterate for correction. Mr. Madison will probably leave something, but I believe, only particular passages of our history, and these chiefly confined to the period between the dissolution of the old and commencement of the new government, which is peculiarly within his knowledge. After he joined me in the administration, he had no leisure to write. This, too, was my case. But although I had not time to prepare anything express, my letters, (all preserved) will furnish the daily occurrences and views from my return from Europe in 1790, till I retired finally from office. These will command more conviction than anything I could have written after my retirement; no day having ever passed during that period without a letter to somebody, written too in the moment, and in the warmth and freshness of fact and feeling, they will carry internal evidence that what they breathe is genuine. Selections from these, after my death, may come out successively as the maturity of circumstances may render their appearance seasonable. But multiplied testimony, multiplied views will be necessary to give solid establishment to truth. Much is known to one which is not known to another, and no one knows everything. It is the sum of individual knowledge which is to make up the whole truth, and to give its correct current through future time. Then do not, dear Sir, withhold your stock of information; and I would moreover recommend that you trust it not to a single copy, nor to a single depository. Leave it not in the power of any one person, under the distempered view of an unlucky moment, to deprive us of the weight of your testimony, and to purchase, by its destruction, the favor of any party or person, as happened with a paper of Dr. Franklin's.
I cannot lay down my pen without recurring to one of the subjects of my former letter, for in truth there is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming, instrumentality of the supreme court. This is the form in which federalism now arrays itself, and consolidation is the present principle of distinction between republicans and the pseudo-republicans but real federalists. I must comfort myself with the hope that the judges will see the importance and the duty of giving their country the only evidence they can give of fidelity to its constitution and integrity in the administration of its laws; that is to say, by every one's giving his opinion seriatim and publicly on the cases he decides. Let him prove by his reasoning that he has read the papers, that he has considered the case, that in the application of the law to it, he uses his own judgment independently and unbiased by party views and personal favor or disfavor. Throw himself in every case on God and his country ; both will excuse him for error and value him for his honesty. The very idea of cooking up opinions in conclave, begets suspicions that something passes which fears the public ear, and this, spreading by degrees, must produce at some time abridgment of tenure, facility of removal, or some other modification which may promise a remedy. For in truth there is at this time more hostility to the federal judiciary, than to any other organ of the government.
I should greatly prefer, as you do, four judges to any greater number. Great lawyers are not over abundant, and the multiplication of judges only enable the weak to out-vote the wise, and three concurrent opinions out of four gives a strong presumption of right.
I cannot better prove my entire confidence in your candor, than by the frankness with which I commit myself to you, and to this I add with truth, assurances of the sincerity of my great esteem and respect.
JOHN ADAMS TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Quinoy, March 10, 1823. DEAR SIR,—The sight of your well known hand writing in your favor of 25th February last, gave me great pleasure, as it proved your arm to be restored, and your pen still manageable. May it continue till you shall become as perfect a Calvinist as I am in one particular. Poor Calvin's infirmities, his rheumatism, his gouts and sciatics, made him frequently cry out, Mon dieu,
jusqu'à quand. Lord, how long! Prat, once chief justice of New York, always tormented with infirmities, dreamt that he was situated on a single rock in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean. He heard a voice:
“Why mourns the bard, Apollo bids thee rise,
The ladies' visit to Monticello has put my readers in requisition to read to me Simons' travels in Switzerland. I thought I had some knowledge of that country before, but I find I had no idea of it. How degenerated are the Swiss. They might defend their country against France, Austria, and Russia ; neither of whom ought to be suffered to march armies over their mountains. Those powers have practiced as much tyranny, and immorality, as even the emperor Napoleon did over them, or over the royalists of Germany or Italy.
Neither France, Austria, or Spain, ought to have a foot of land in Italy. All conquerors are alike. Every one of them. Jura negat sibi lati, nihil non arrogat armis. We have nothing but fables concerning Theseus, Bacchus, and Hercules, and even Sesostris; but I dare say that every one of them was as tyrannical and immoral as Napoleon. Nebuchadnezzar is the first great conqueror of whom we have anything like history, and he was as great as any of them. Alexander and Cæsar were more immoral than Napoleon. Zingis Khan was as great a conqueror as any of them, and destroyed as many millions of lives, and thought he had a right to the whole globe, if he could subdue it.
What are we to think of the crusades in which three millions of lives at least were probably sacrificed. And what right had St. Louis and Richard Caur de Lion to Palestine and Syria more than Alexander to India, or Napoleon to Egypt and Italy? Right and justice have hard fare in this world, but there is a power above who is capable and willing to put all things right in the end ; et pour mettre chacun à sa place dans l'universe, and I doubt not he will.
Mr. English, a Bostonian, has published a volume of his expedition with Ishmael Pashaw, up the river Nile. He advanced above the third cataract, and opens a prospect of a resurrection from the dead of those vast and ancient countries of Abyssinia and Ethiopia ; a free communication with India, and the river Niger, and the city of Tombuctoo. This, however, is conjecture and speculation rather than certainty; but a free communication by land between Europe and India will ere long be opened. A few American steamboats, and our Quincy stone-cutters would soon make the Nile as navigable as our Hudson, Potomac, or Mississippi. You see as my reason and intellect fails, my imagination grows more wild and ungovernable, but my friendship remains the same. Adieu.
TO JOHN ADAMS.
MONTICELLO, April 11, 1823. DEAR SIR,—The wishes expressed in your last favor, that I may continue in life and health until I become a Calvinist, at least in his exclamation of,“ Mon Dieu ! jusqu'à quand !” would